That conclusion is based on two hours of lively and sometimes confounding conversation among a dozen Florida voters Tuesday night in the city where, barring unforeseen circumstances, Romney will accept the Republican nod in four months.
The participants consisted of Floridians who are either registered Republicans or are independents who generally support Republicans. All voted for Sen. John McCain for president in 2008, Marco Rubio for Senate in 2010 or Rick Scott for governor in 2010.
The 12 people do not in any way represent a scientific sample of the Florida electorate. But their discussion helped illuminate the conflicting issues that many voters are sorting out as the general-election campaign begins.
These Floridians are not classic swing voters. Instead, they are the kinds of people Romney needs to win this battleground state and the presidency. Many said positive things about him. They consider him a successful businessman and a devoted husband, father and grandfather. Many also are certain that they will vote for Romney.
The reasons have as much or more to do with their belief that Obama has been a failure and that his policies are fundamentally wrong for the country as they do with their pure enthusiasm for the likely Republican nominee. Their deep dislike for Obama’s policies existed even though several had positive views of him personally and expressed pride about the symbolism of him as the nation’s first African American president.
Although they are leaning toward or already behind Romney, they expressed reservations about him and his campaign. The concerns take two forms — personal and policy — but are intertwined. Romney remains an opaque and distant figure.
The former Massachusetts governor’s personal wealth is a big barrier to them. Even these sympathetic voters can’t relate personally to the man who wants to lead their party and the country. “He’s not coming across as a regular guy,” said Bruno Kazenas, a school music teacher.
“It’s hard to be around a guy with that much money,” said Jonathan Rosa, a deputy police officer. He added that it would take a lot to get him to support Obama but that he might back a third-party candidate over Romney.
Ron Romonchuk, a retired consultant, called Romney “a 1 percenter” who has never gotten his hands dirty. He recalled former president George H.W. Bush going to a “hole in the wall” restaurant while in office. “I don’t ever see Mitt Romney doing that,” Romonchuk said.